Start Your FREE Membership NOW
 Discover Proven Ways to Be a Better Law Office Manager
 Get Our Weekly eNewsletter, Law Office Manager Bulletin,
    and MUCH MORE
 Absolutely NO Risk or Obligation on Your Part -- It's FREE!
EMAIL ADDRESS



Upgrade to Premium Membership NOW for Just $90!
Get 3 Months of Full Premium Membership Access
Includes Our Monthly Newsletter, Office Toolbox, Policy Center, and Archives
And MUCH MORE!

Contractors, COVID and stereotyping on HR radar

By Mike O’Brien bio DOL tries to clarify independent contractor definition The US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed what it believes is a simplified definition of independent contractor (IC) for purposes of applying wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies only to employees. The new DOL proposal still focuses on the factors of economic reality, but tries to clarify how to apply them. DOL says employers first should focus on two core factors: (1) the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. If both factors point to either employee status or IC status, that probably is the right classification. If not, DOL says three additional factors must be… . . . read more

Quiz

Office’s duty to protect returning employees from COVID-19 discrimination and harassment

SITUATION Fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Max is thrilled and excited to return to his custodian job after 14 days of mandatory home isolation. But almost immediately, he senses that something is wrong. His co-workers shun him and leave the room the moment he enters. And, while hygiene and handwashing are de rigueur for all maintenance staff, Max alone is required douse his hands in germicide and don rubber gloves each time he touches a piece of equipment. Worse, his supervisor harasses him and calls him “virus boy.” After weeks of putting up with it, Max complains to office management. But his complaints fall on deaf ears and he continues to be ostracized and made to take extraordinary safety and hygiene measures not required of anybody else. So,… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

New COVID-19 guidance for you from EEOC

By Mike O’Brien bio The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its COVID-19 guidance page, addressing a number of issues. Here are some of them: On coronavirus testing, the EEOC said general testing administered by employers consistent with current CDC guidance will meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard, and noted that employers should ensure that the required COVID-19 tests are accurate and reliable according to the FDA, CDC, and other public health authorities. If an employer wants to test only one employee, however, the employer should have a reasonable objective belief that he/she might have the disease. The EEOC says an employer can ask employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who may have symptoms associated with the disease, but should not phrase that… . . . read more

COVID Q&A

5 questions on the virus and your law office

By Lynne Curry bio 1 Pushback from employees who choose to stay on unemployment Question: We didn’t expect the pushback we got from two of our furloughed employees when we called them back to work, particularly as we allow employees to work from home part of the workweek if their work can be accomplished remotely. One ignored two “return to work” emails but responded to a “work starts Monday” text with “thanks, but no thanks.” The other emailed he needed a raise if we wanted him back. We called him and said, “that’s not in the cards, we’re barely squeaking by.” He said he made more money on unemployment than working, so there was no real percentage in returning to work. What do we do with this? Answer: A condition… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

What, if anything, does OSHA require you to do to protect telecommuters?

While telecommuting is nothing new, the imperative for using it has never been greater. In addition to all the cost-saving, work-life balance, recruiting and hiring advantages, letting employees work from home during a pandemic has become a vital infection control measure. But it also poses significant compliance challenges, particularly in the realm of OSHA. After all, how are you supposed to meet your duty to protect the health and safety of office employees if they work from home at a location beyond your physical control? This article will provide the answer. Spoiler alert: OSHA requirements don’t generally extend to employees working from home; but you still can and should take some basic steps to ensure their health and safety. OSHA & telecommuters The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Section 4(a))… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Coworker exposed all of us to COVID-19

By Lynne Curry bio Question For weeks, “Carolyn” told the five of us in our department that she had allergies whenever any of us asked her about her sneezing. She worked with us in the same building, used the same copier, restroom and office fridge and handled the same coffeepot. I tried to avoid her because she kept forgetting her mask and didn’t seem to understand what six feet of separation meant. I saw that she didn’t use sanitizing wipes after she used the copier or coffeepot, so I wiped the copier before I used it and started bringing my own coffee from home. I didn’t talk with the others about this because I’m not a gossip. I regret that now. Because Carolyn’s and my job overlapped and I have… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE GUIDANCE

How to create a legally sound COVID-19 medical screening policy

Like so many other law offices during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be considering medically screening your employees each day before letting them into the workplace. While screening is highly problematic in normal times, regulators have grudgingly acknowledged that it may be a justified health and safety measure during the pandemic. The operative phrase is “may be,” which means that limits still apply. You need to recognize and ensure keep your facility in compliance with those limits. Here’s how. Three Ways COVID-19 Screening Can Get Your Firm into Legal Hot Water Medically screening  personnel can expose you to three kinds of liability. Privacy Violations Body temperature and information about an individual’s symptoms (or lack thereof) collected during the screening process is personal health information (PHI) protected by HIPAA and other… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Coronavirus pushing rapid changes in employer law

By Mike O’Brien bio Employer  law is rapidly changing amid the coronavirus pandemic. For one thing, Congress has passed another coronavirus related law. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has provided some helpful guidance and answered a number of questions about the recent expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and about the new paid sick leave law, see: DOL FFCRA Q&A. Here are updates:  PAID LEAVE UNDER THE EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT (EPSLA): Employees of covered employers (private employers below 500 employees and certain public employers) are eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for certain COVID-19 related reasons. If leave is because he/she is quarantined (by government order or a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

New overtime rule now in effect

By Mike O’Brien bio Jan. 1, 2020 was the deadline to comply with new FLSA overtime rule. At the end of September the Department of Labor issued its long-awaited final rule updating the salary level test for white-collar overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the new rule, the minimum salary level for exemption is raised from $455 a week to $684 a week, or $35,568 annually. The change marks the first increase in the minimum salary level to take effect in more than 15 years. It is expected to bring overtime eligibility to over a million employees who are ineligible under the current threshold. Although the DOL released a final rule raising the salary level in 2016, the rule was blocked by a federal district court and… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Pay rates, vacations while recovering, gig economy

Department of Labor enters final stage of update to ‘regular rate’ rule under FLSA. As we have discussed previously in these updates, the Department of Labor has been working to update the definition of “regular rate” of pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act


(-0)